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Altair was founded in 2079 as part of the Commonwealth’s land grab initiative and was almost certainly premature, but at the time the government was very worried about an American colony springing up next to Arcturus and denying them Altair was the logical choice. Funding soon dried up, along with the flow of immigrants, as the Commonwealth found itself overreaching and the local government was left with a massive infrastructure surplus, with no way of maintaining it, and near zero population influx.

Their solution was both simple and controversial, in 2084 Altair legalised all forms of genetic engineering and removed all regulations to be reassessed at an unknown date. This caused pandemonium across the settled systems, with an almost unilateral movement to cut off the Altairians. But the planet was out of the jurisdiction of anyone but the Commonwealth[1], and by the Commonwealth’s own rules they could only advise, not dictate laws[2].

The economic sanctions brought against Altair were of minimal effect, and half hearted at best as they only affected goods for sale and did not increase the price of vital supplies moving into the colony. Within a year or so, the migrant flood had begun again, but this time it was not the poor or dissatisfied, but educated workers from every major biotech company in human space[3]. The economy trebled in less than six months, and suddenly Altair became a self sufficient colony and the exporter of biotech goods.

Its position as a major power was basically assured at this point[4], but colony growth pretty much stalled two years later, as everyone who was going to migrate to Altair was either already their or unable to reach the planet. This left Altair is a bit a quandary. It briefly held a position equivalent to Arcturus in sheer economic might, but its meteoric expansion plateaued very rapidly and they were left with a fairly standard growth rate of four percent. With no real options Altair elected to introduce regulations on the biotech sector to try and reduce the sanctions against them[5].

The regulations were left deliberately vague, and skirted around many key issues. Human modification didn’t even get a mention, instead falling under the banner of modification of mammals, which was totally legal. There were multiple safeguards put in place to help the victims of rampant genetic modification, and these could be easily applied to altered humans or victims of an escaped virus[6]. Also included were details on the minimum safety requirements of an active lab and the licences you would need to perform experiments of various risks[7].

This did reduce the crippling tariffs somewhat, but Altair was still avoided, partly out of fear and partly because it’s actually a little off the beaten track. It also did little to stimulate the economy, and Altair’s growth will remain relatively slow for the next two hundred years or so, with most of the major investments[8] being government funded.

[1] Annoying the Commonwealth at this point was a bad idea, not because of their military, but the fact that they contributed to about twenty percent of your economy.

[2] Advice in this context can be ‘do as we say or we’ll shoot you’ but thankfully it never progressed to this point.

[3] The companies themselves sponsored the movement, reasoning that they would need their educated workforce where they would not be restricted by regulations.

[4] The knee jerk reaction felt across the systems when Altair started releasing its first major goods practically crippled genetic research on any other planet than Altair. No one stopped to think how powerful this would make Altair.

[5] A ninety percent import tariff has never encouraged anyone to buy your products.

[6] No such escape has ever occurred, mostly because if a modified virus did get out, even if it caused no more than a bad head cold, the company could be sued for billions.

[7] This ranges from air purifiers at the lowest level, to being able to flood the entire lab with napalm at a moments notice for the highest. I’m not actually sure if anyone has ever required such a licence, as it would probably require you to be bringing back the dead. (Zombie moves aren’t made on Altair as they actually have procedures for dealing with such a thing.)

[8] The ongoing terraforming project for example.


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